Veteran’s Monument Dedication
After more than two years of planning, the dream to relocate the veteran’s memorial from South Avenue to more appropriate location has become a reality. On June 25th PolishYoungstown, the Polish Army Veteran's Association of America District 9 and Town One Streetscapes dedicated the Polish War Veteran’s Memorial at its new home inside of Peterson Park in Poland, Ohio.
Lisa Skomra Lotze, monument chair, lead a ceremony that was both moving and memorable, honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of democracy and reminding generations to come that freedom is not free and must always be defended. More than 100 visitors, some from as far away as Chicago and Connecticut.The Catholic War veterans of St. Stan’s church provided the Honor Guard and Salute to The Dead, Boy Scout troupe 80 presented the colors and Timothy Harkelroad and Greg Erb performed Taps with the Echo. Costumed children from the Krakowiaki dance troupe laid a wreath of red and white flowers at the base of the Monument.
PAWA Commander Zygmunt Bierat represented Polish Veterans and Sgt. John Brown, Retired Navy, National AMVETS Commande, represented American servicemen. Both speakers eloquently described the universal experience of serving one’s country in the defense of freedom and democracy. In addition Senator Joe Schiavone presented Peterson Park with the Ohio state flag.
Dr. Jan Napoleon Saykiewicz, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland, presented an enlightening speech about the connectedness of Americans and Poles. The ceremony opened with lovely a capella renditions of the Amercan and Polish national anthems sung by Kathleen and Mark Lyda. Father Joseph Rudjak gave the invocation and benediction.
A delicious Polish buffet was featured at the reception following that event thanks to the efforts of Jackie Johnson and Marianne Poprik.
The memorial is dedicated to Polish émigré veterans of World Wars I and II. It was erected at its location on South Avenue in 1970 by the Youngstown chapter of the Polish Army War Veterans of America. That group is now defunct and the former Polski Dom, known as Krakusy Hall, has been vacant for several years.
To fully appreciate the sacrifices made to construct this monument and the sacrifices it stands for we felt we needed to find a new location that was not only relevant to the monument, but accessible to the general public. That goal was achieved with Peterson Park in Poland’s city center. The focal point of the peninsular park is a life-size sculpture portrays Gens. Casimir Pułaski and Tadeusz Kościuszko—the two Polish generals for whom the village and township were named to honor. The statue is the only one depicting these two Revolutionary War patriots together. “We can think of no better home for this monument,” says Lotze, PolishYoungstown Monument chair. “In this one location, that has already become a Polonia tourist stop, visitors can learn about the contributions of these Polish generals to the initial American fight for freedom and now, the sacrifices of Polish men and women during the World Wars, too.”
“We’re happy that this striking monument has found a home worthy of its heritage,” says Larry Warren, Town One Streetscapes president, adding that the groups have been working with several veterans’ organizations to facilitate the move for nearly a year. “The monument honors the courage of patriots and a patriot’s struggle to be free transcends national, cultural and territorial bounds.”
How can you help?
The dedication placed the monument but the project is not finished. This was the official launch of Polish Youngstown’s/Town One Streetscapes memorial brick sale to now make the park more accessible. We need to sell 500 bricks to make this project happen. The lava rock that currently covers the park, although pretty, makes it inaccessible for seniors and others who might be physically challenged to visit and enjoy the park. Order forms for this available here.
Also available at the event will be tabletop models of the Tom Antonishak’s Freedom fighters sculpture as well as a Cat’s Meow edition of the park with the monument included. This is the latest addition to the Polish sites around Youngstown collection. Please be generous with your support.